Namaste. In the last few years, I've become much more interested in meditation than initially. I started with meditation many, many years ago, but I became enthralled by the asana practice for a long, long time. But lately, meditation has, for me, where I am now, given me, it's giving me a great deal, so I'm sharing with you what I do when I practice. First off, I try to meditate at least once a day, because I've been living for a while now, and what I've noticed is that this mind, it gets busy, and it gets busy with all kinds of things.
If I stop to sit and observe it, there's a better chance that I'm not going to get caught up in the conversation. Conversation is endless and insidious. The mind, the way my mind works, and I'm going to assume that our minds are similar, is that I see something that occurs, what I say is "out there," right, some kind of dynamic, or someone says a certain thing, and then I have a reaction to it, and if I'm not paying attention, I can make it seem as though what's going on out there is "real." That's not to say that it didn't occur, but what I will often forget is that I'm the one having the reaction, right? Two of us could be standing here. A situation occurs out there.
This person doesn't have any response one way or the other, but somehow, I got triggered. There's a number of ways that I could react. I could react with sadness. I could react with fear. I could react with either pride, like I'm either bigger than the situation, or less than the situation.
I could react with jealousy. Did I cover it? Sadness, anger, fear, jealousy, and pride. Those are generally the different negative human emotions that arise. I look at all of those as opportunities, especially because I have a mediation practice.
If those have arisen, then I can practice with those experiences and then see through them, ultimately see through them. The way it works is, I get up really early, because you can hear the traffic from outside my window. If I, it's down the ways, but I like to be up when it's quiet. I make that work in my household, which is a challenge, because I've got to keep the dog asleep so I can do this. I come to a seat, and I close my eyes, and I try to keep as much stirring during the morning down as possible, so that I haven't gotten, like, I would I not turn my phone on, for example.
I would not get going in the business of the day, because then I've got extra activity up here. I keep things really quiet. I go inside. I root. I apply all those principles we've been talking about in the different sessions that I've been doing here with you.
I root, and I just have an sense of equanimity and stability in my body. Then I just feel the container of the pelvis and zip right up the front, and I check my breathing, and I see well, what's going in there? Is there any jagged bits to the breath, or is it really smooth? Is my inhale really pronounced? Is there a little bit of space between the inhale and the exhale?
Where's my head in relation to my spine, because sometimes when I get really busy, my head will be forward on my body. I want to feel as though the front and the back are pretty even. I've set up the container here. Sometimes it's common for me to want to put my hands on my knees, but if I do that, my arms are forward. It's really better to have my upper arm bones just resting, so they're vertical.
There's as little activity as possible. I've got the central axis of my spine holding me, and everything else that's going on in here is just phenomenon now. My eyes are closed, and I'm feeling what it's like to be me in whatever moment I'm in. It's this moment, right now. Then I notice what the thoughts are that I'm having.
Maybe, because it's early morning, at least I'm envisioning it so, maybe something happened yesterday that I'm still concerned about, or trying to work out. A problem arose, and I've been spinning on it a little bit. What I want to begin to do is back up and look at the things that I am concerned about, the things that I'm having a reaction to. I treat them like phenomenon, like I'm looking up at the stars, and some stars are brighter than others. Yup, there's a little bit of frustration with that person, and I just notice, ah, what does that feel like in my body?
Instead of, at least this is my attempt, instead of running, or acting on it, or making up more story about it, I feel it. I feel where it is. Where is it located? It's in my chest. Whatever, let's say it is frustration. Maybe there's a color associated with it. Might be kind of like a red purple, whatever the color is.
There could be a shape. Does it move in my body? It's as if I'm watching this phenomenon, and by watching it and attending to it, it's just the law of change. It's going to change. It's going to dissipate in time, just by attending to it, not reacting.
Maybe another thought comes, and this one's got some sadness to it. This is a little bit different. It's got a different feeling in my body. Good. It can be a little bit heavier, sometimes. The color could be different.
I let myself feel what's there. I really do imagine that this world that I'm experiencing is all so that I can learn something, that every single experience that I've had from the past, because sometimes I'm processing things from a long time ago, or from the recent past, all of this is for my own awakening, something to learn. In fact, if I'm spinning about something, if I've preoccupied, chances are, the thing that I think that I'm seeing, the phenomenon I think I'm seeing, probably is something that tripped me up a long time ago, and I'm being asked to look again at why is it that I'm having this reaction? I acknowledge those five. Is there any pride? Where is there pride?
There any self-esteem issues I should take a look at? Yep, okay. Good. Anger, sadness. Jealousy. That's me assuming there's somebody out there to be jealous of.
Then, I attempt to apply, there's a great story that I often use about a Tibetan monk, well, he was studying to be a monk, and he was put in a small room, and he was given a piece of chalk. He had to write down, with that chalk, he had to draw a line on the wall every time he had a negative thought. It didn't take him long at all to fill up that space with chalk. The teacher comes back, and the teacher essentially gives him an eraser. What he does is, he then erases each line with a positive thought.
In this case, let's say I'm feeling jealousy. I look at it. Maybe it's a person. I think they're amazing. Somehow I don't quite feel adequate.
Aren't they lucky they got this thing? I attempt to put myself back in the present, how amazing it is that I have this life and this body. Boundless joy is what I'm going for. I'm going for, oh, goodness, it's incredible that I get to experience all that I'm experiencing. Remembering that whatever it is that I might be jealous of, there's a figment there.
There's something for me to look at. Then next, I'm looking for a sense of equanimity. Equal. That no matter whatever it is that arises, I'm right there, steady in it. Neither aggressive, neither too passive.
Absolutely able to be present to anything that arises. I use anything that arises in my life as opportunity to explore equanimity. And then compassion. I want at all times to be able to be willing and open, to feel the suffering of someone else. Because that suffering is, in many respects, my own suffering.
If I can meet that person with their suffering, then something will happen. Something will change, because we both could come together and share in this experience of being human. Then I can make some kind of valuable impact. Otherwise, if I stay away from that, there's no hope for shift. Then loving kindness.
Loving kindness to myself, to the people that I love, to the people I haven't yet the courage to love, those neutral people, as if there were neutral people. And the folks that I am challenged by. May they be happy and healthy and free from suffering. I do all that work, and then I pull out my mala, and I'll tell you about these malas. The deal is that they are lovely fashion statements, but they're far more effective as a tool.
They are a tool. I always have one with me, no matter where I go, because if I all the sudden get busy, busy, busy in my head, feeling any of those emotions that are difficult, then I use my mantra to step back and remember the chain of events that's simply taking place. Step back. There are many different kinds of mantras, and I've had mantras over the years, and they change depending on what I need. My teacher recently, my teacher is Ram Dass, recently gave me this mantra I've found extremely useful.
It goes like this: "I am love, I am loving awareness." He explained it to me that this tradition, this yoga tradition, well, this is the part I'm saying. This isn't what he said. This yoga tradition is really founded on Hinduism and Buddhism. Buddhism is known so much for awareness, developing and cultivating awareness, and Hinduism is built around love and devotion. What he said was that both are really necessary.
Without awareness, love can be blind. Without love, the awareness can get very dry. If we allow ourselves to love with awareness, we're going to stay on the path and move on the path quickly. That's worked really well for me. I put the mala on my ring finger, and then the ring finger and the thumb are what makes contact.
Sometimes my middle finger helps out a little bit. I close my eyes, and I just time, you've got to work with your mantras so that the timing works right with the bead. I am loving awareness. I am loving awareness. I am loving awareness.
I am loving awareness. You can use whatever it is that works for you. If you're working to cultivate, develop a particular state of mind, you can take that word, like "compassion," and you can repeat that word over and over again. The great news there is that the mind is really capable of thinking about only one or two things at a time, really one at a time. We put loving awareness over everything, or whatever the mantra is, essentially what we're doing is we're putting that in the place of whatever it is that we've got going on.
Powerful remedy. Powerful remedy. I say my mantra, and sometimes, after 15 minutes or so, my fingers just stop working, and I just want to enter a space, and if you practice, and you practice regularly, the thoughts themselves become like this phenomenon. We step back into this field. Remember, Rumi said, "There is a field. I'll meet you there"?
That's what he was talking about. There's this field, this field of awareness, loving awareness, that we're all connected with, and we forgot. Our work, as yogis, is to remember. I hope that helps you. Namaste.